Published: Monday, 7th June 2021
Residents voted in their hundreds to choose the new piece of public art for Bligh’s Meadow, Sevenoaks.
Sevenoaks District Council’s Public Realm Commission secured £17,000 for a new sculpture from property developers and invited artists to come forward with ideas for the busy site. They received more than 35 submissions.
The ideas were shortlisted down to two entries with the help of local artists, businesses and residents.
The two shortlisted entries were Three and Four by Oliver Barratt and ‘Seven Oaks of Sevenoaks’ by Simone Tchonova and Matthijs la Roi.
Residents’ were asked to share their views on these proposals during April and May. Nearly 800 residents took part in the survey and ‘Seven Oaks of Sevenoaks’ was crowned as the people’s choice.
The winning sculpture represents the oaks on Sevenoaks Vine, of which many were destroyed in the great storm of 1987 and then replanted. The piece signifies climate restoration and what is possible when people work together to protect the environment.
Community involvement is at the heart of the work. Up to 4,500 residents will have the chance to have a personal environmental promise engraved on one of the unique steel pieces that form the sculpture.
Cllr Roddy Hogarth, the Council’s Commissioner of the Public Realm, says: “I would like to thank the hundreds of people who took the time to share their views on the two sculptures.
“As with all art, there are strong opinions one way or the other and residents had a lot to say about these proposals. But what is clear from our survey, ‘Seven Oaks of Sevenoaks’ captured the imagination of people who voted.
“I am really excited that thousands of people would be involved by inscribing an environmental pledge on the many steel pieces that make up the sculpture. We can’t wait for work to begin on the installation.”
Founder Director of Second Floor Studios and Arts and member of the deciding panel, Matthew Wood, adds: “I’m delighted the ‘Seven Oaks of Sevenoaks’ has been chosen for Bligh's Meadow Marks and Spencer site, being selected from such a strong field of entries.
“What made the submission stand out is their vision to bring this new public artwork and sculptural monument right up to date. It fuses concepts with the most pressing of global climate emergencies and the vital importance of trees as part of a sustainable future now and for our future generations.
“But most importantly, the sculpture will bring thousands of residents voices to participate and engage with the artwork itself, allowing their thoughts, feelings, aspirations and words around climate change and action, clean energy, sustainability and more to be laser cut into the sculptural monument.”
The Council is hoping to install the sculpture before the end of the year.
To find out more about the work, visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/publicrealm